Michael Cates

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Michael Cates

Cates in 2012
Michael Elmhirst Cates

(1961-05-05) 5 May 1961 (age 61)
Bristol, England, United Kingdom
CitizenshipUnited Kingdom
EducationTrinity College, Cambridge
AwardsMaxwell Medal and Prize (1991)
Paul Dirac Medal and Prize (2009)
Weissenberg Award (2013)
Bingham Medal (2016)
Scientific career
Soft matter
InstitutionsUniversity of Cambridge
University of Edinburgh
ThesisThe statistical mechanics of complex polymers (1985)
Doctoral advisorSir Sam Edwards

Michael Elmhirst Cates FRS FRSE HonFInstP (born 5 May 1961) is a British physicist. He is the 19th Lucasian Professor of Mathematics at the University of Cambridge and has held this position since 1 July 2015.[1] He was previously Professor of Natural Philosophy at the University of Edinburgh, and has held a Royal Society Research Professorship since 2007.[2]

His work focuses on the theory of soft matter, such as polymers, colloids, gels, liquid crystals, and granular material. A recurring goal of his research is to create a mathematical model that predicts the stress in a flowing material as a functional of the flow history of that material. Such a mathematical model is called a constitutive equation. He has worked on theories of active matter, particularly dense suspensions of self-propelled particles which can include motile bacteria. His interests also include fundamental field theories of active systems in which time-reversal symmetry (T-symmetry, and more generally, CPT symmetry) is absent. Such theories are characterised by nonzero steady-state entropy production.

At Edinburgh, Cates was the Principal Investigator of an EPSRC Programme Grant, awarded in 2011, entitled Design Principles for New Soft Materials.[3][4] On his departure for Cambridge, Cait MacPhee took over as Principal Investigator. Cates remains an Honorary Professor at Edinburgh.

Early life[edit]

Cates was born on 5 May 1961.[5] He read Natural Sciences and earned a PhD at Trinity College, Cambridge in 1985, where he studied with Sam Edwards.

Academic career[edit]

Cates was a research fellow and lecturer at the Cavendish Laboratory, University of Cambridge before moving to Edinburgh in 1995.


Cates won the Bingham Medal of the US Society of Rheology in 2016.[6] He had previously won the 2013 Weissenberg Award of the European Society of Rheology[7] and the 2009 Gold Medal of the British Society of Rheology. He was awarded the 2009 Dirac Prize by the Institute of Physics. He won the 1991 Maxwell Medal and Prize. He has served as an elected member of the Council of the Royal Society, and chairs the International Scientific Committee of ESPCI ParisTech. He was an honorary fellow of Trinity College, Cambridge from 2013 until 2016, when he became instead a senior research fellow.

He was also elected a member of the National Academy of Engineering in 2019 for research on the rheology, dynamics, and thermodynamics of complex fluids, and for scientific leadership in the European Community.


Michael Cates has over 350 refereed scientific publications, attracting over 30 000 citations. His h-index is 105.[8]

Highly cited publications include:

  • Milner, S. T.; Witten, T. A.; Cates, M. E. (1988). "Theory of the grafted polymer brush". Macromolecules. American Chemical Society (ACS). 21 (8): 2610–2619. Bibcode:1988MaMol..21.2610M. doi:10.1021/ma00186a051. ISSN 0024-9297.
  • Cates, M E; Candau, S J (20 August 1990). "Statics and dynamics of worm-like surfactant micelles". Journal of Physics: Condensed Matter. IOP Publishing. 2 (33): 6869–6892. doi:10.1088/0953-8984/2/33/001. ISSN 0953-8984.
  • Cates, M. E. (1987). "Reptation of living polymers: dynamics of entangled polymers in the presence of reversible chain-scission reactions". Macromolecules. American Chemical Society (ACS). 20 (9): 2289–2296. Bibcode:1987MaMol..20.2289C. doi:10.1021/ma00175a038. ISSN 0024-9297.
  • Sollich, Peter; Lequeux, François; Hébraud, Pascal; Cates, Michael E. (10 March 1997). "Rheology of Soft Glassy Materials". Physical Review Letters. American Physical Society (APS). 78 (10): 2020–2023. arXiv:cond-mat/9611228. Bibcode:1997PhRvL..78.2020S. doi:10.1103/physrevlett.78.2020. ISSN 0031-9007. S2CID 14392727.
  • Cates, M. E.; Wittmer, J. P.; Bouchaud, J.-P.; Claudin, P. (31 August 1998). "Jamming, Force Chains, and Fragile Matter". Physical Review Letters. American Physical Society (APS). 81 (9): 1841–1844. arXiv:cond-mat/9803197. Bibcode:1998PhRvL..81.1841C. doi:10.1103/physrevlett.81.1841. ISSN 0031-9007. S2CID 119378758.
  • Pham, K. N. (5 April 2002). "Multiple Glassy States in a Simple Model System". Science. American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS). 296 (5565): 104–106. Bibcode:2002Sci...296..104P. doi:10.1126/science.1068238. ISSN 0036-8075. PMID 11935020. S2CID 34313265.
  • Stratford, K. (30 September 2005). "Colloidal Jamming at Interfaces: A Route to Fluid-Bicontinuous Gels". Science. American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS). 309 (5744): 2198–2201. arXiv:cond-mat/0510040. Bibcode:2005Sci...309.2198S. doi:10.1126/science.1116589. ISSN 0036-8075. PMID 16195456. S2CID 14719880.
  • Tailleur, J.; Cates, M. E. (29 May 2008). "Statistical Mechanics of Interacting Run-and-Tumble Bacteria". Physical Review Letters. 100 (21): 218103. arXiv:0803.1069. Bibcode:2008PhRvL.100u8103T. doi:10.1103/physrevlett.100.218103. ISSN 0031-9007. PMID 18518641. S2CID 9651052.


  1. ^ "Cambridge University Reporter No 6380". 18 March 2015. Retrieved 19 March 2015.
  2. ^ "Professor Michael Cates: Royal Society Research Professor". Royal Society. Retrieved 8 October 2021.
  3. ^ "Design Principles for New Soft Materials". Gow.epsrc.ac.uk. Retrieved 26 August 2014.
  4. ^ ECFP. "Design Principles for New Soft Materials". University of Edinburgh. Retrieved 26 August 2014.
  5. ^ "CATES, Prof. Michael Elmhirst". Who's Who 2014. A & C Black. Retrieved 5 May 2014.
  6. ^ "Bingham Medalists".
  7. ^ "Weissenberg Award to Michael Cates | The European Society of Rheology". Rheology-esr.net. 4 April 2013. Retrieved 26 August 2014.
  8. ^ "Google Scholar: Michael Cates".

External links[edit]